Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Notes from My Daughter - Amens

Occasional notes from my 22-year-old daughter. I never know what to expect when she writes but it's usually a pleasant surprise. Read on!

Lately, I started becoming more aware of how I "end" my prayers with God. I came to a realization that I struggle not with idea of grace itself, but with continued grace. With the fact that God is omnipresent and aware of all things that have, are, and will occur over the course of my life and if He is indeed omnipresent, how do I a finite human being with a limited understanding of time and presence actually communicate with Him? What's the point of consciously communicating with someone who knows your conscious and subconscious simply because they exist in all space and time?

Belief is a powerful thing because it's absolute for the human; there is no alternative from your vantage point. What you believe is what is, therefore what is creates a pattern for the things you habitually do.

I started noticing my beliefs in my "Amen's" and took the time out to really analyze them. For example:
"Amen: please don't say anything back, I don't know how to be accountable. I just wanted to vent to you. Cool? Bye."

"Amen: This is all I have to say and obviously since I said it, I tried, so I'm done. I fulfilled my role and am still an active partner in this relationship. Take it or leave it" kind of ultimatum.

Or even the ever so lovely
"Amen: I have nothing to say to you tonight so, I love you and goodnight." This one seems pleasant on the surface but has ended a conversation that never really began by acknowledging an intention of not hurting God's feelings, but also not desiring to pay the cost of vulnerability and openness. It's a pause, initiated on my behalf, which shows the conditions of my beliefs. 
In all of these amens I was both trying to get away from, and trying to appease God in some way.

Talking to God continuously is not a burden nor is it a lack of completion. Waiting on an answer from Him continuously is not a burden. Reveling in his presence repetitively is not a burden. God is not a burden. Delighting in God means not really wanting it to end. Not for the distractions of this world, your former life or anything.

It took some time and prayer but eventually God brought me to the understanding that continuity and completion are one in the same for Him. While Jesus said, "It is finished", God the Father was also introducing a new beginning by means of the Holy Spirit. Our triune God partakes in a continual work that consistently removes the burden we feel due to sin. It is not in God's heart to burden his children or to see them quit. .

" The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."- 2 Peter 3:9
By continuing to be with us, God is completing the work he started in us. But if we lose patience and give up in the midst of the process we are believing it is better to be incomplete and within our own understanding than it is to be challenged by God's continuing and creative work in our lives. 

I recommitted my life to God about 6 years ago now and I used to take pleasure in every new lesson, but once they stopped seeming new and I couldn't actually understand what the heck God was doing at all, drifting seem like a good option. I spat out one quick prayer when this started happening which was "God don't let me go," but I also found it difficult to change my present beliefs, trust God, and act in impulsive obedience like I did in my former years. That prayer was kind of like my last breath before I anticipated the guaranteed drowning into a boring "Christian" life. I was turning into a mundane Christian who only endured (but did not enjoy) Christian culture because of my proclamation, and that there was no alternative to this traditional mindset. My prayers were dismissive and doubtful but overtime the Holy Spirit showed me that God is with you when you lack faith, but he also challenges you to grow the little faith you do presently have. God is with you when you don't understand. God is with you when you don't have know how to structure your own life in a way that promotes continuity.

The Lord's prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 highlights the components of prayer and provides a template for when you don't know what to say, which also served as a reminder of all that is constantly true about God in the human life. Originally it does not include the term amen at all. So for a while, I stopped practicing saying "Amen" and just took time out to listen and respond to God instead. I took the time to continue in what He already promised to bring to completion. It changed the dynamic of how I viewed God, what my fears/beliefs were, and how I understood the purpose of relationship.

Analyze how you treat God, even in the small things so that you are motivated to continue the work He is completing in you. Call on God about your own habits. Practice being present so that you may continue in His purpose without entertaining the idea of giving up.


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